We exercise for many different reasons - to look good, stay fit, and maintain a healthy body weight. Unless we’re in physical therapy or recovering from an injury, we rarely consider the functional aspect of our muscles and work out mainly to improve the look and tone of our glamour muscles. It isn’t often that we work out solely for functional reasons. However, our pelvic muscles, hidden from view, are primarily muscles of function, muscles for “go” rather than “show.”
Here are five ways strong pelvic floor muscles can improve the daily lives of men and women.
We’ve all experienced a sudden and urgent desire to urinate or move our bowels when a bathroom was nowhere in sight. For some of us, this happens frequently and can be very disruptive and embarrassing. Urinary and bowel urgency often occurs as a result of an involuntary bladder or bowel contraction, when the bladder or bowel squeezes without our permission. Sometimes the contractions are the result of “triggers” that induce a conditioned response, such as the sound of running water. By quickly squeezing your pelvic floor muscles three to five times the urgency can be relieved (and the leakage that can sometimes occur can often be prevented). This works equally well for bowel urgency as it does for urinary urgency.
Stress incontinence is urinary leakage provoked by “stressors” such as sneezing, coughing, bending, lifting, exercising, and positional change. It’s a common condition in women, often resulting from childbirth. Although less common in men, it can occur following radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer and sometimes after surgery done on the prostate for benign conditions. By actively squeezing the pelvic floor muscles immediately prior to exposure to the stressor, the incontinence can be improved or eliminated. For example, if sneezing provokes incontinence, a strong pelvic floor muscle contraction prior to sneezing helps prevent the leakage.
An “after-dribble” of urine is common for many men and women after urinating. Luckily it is more annoying and inconvenient than a sign of a serious medical condition. Known as “post-void dribbling,” this condition is typically caused by pelvic muscle weakness and it occurs more frequently as we age. Keeping your pelvic muscles fit and actively squeezing them after urinating will prevent the unwanted drops of urine from ending up in your underpants.
The pelvic muscles play a critical role in the rigidity of erections in men. They are responsible for dramatically increasing the blood pressure within the penis. When engaged, the pelvic muscles create a “muscular tourniquet” that chokes off the exit of blood from the penis. With each squeeze of these specialized muscles, a surge of blood flows into the erectile chambers of the penis - the end-result being a rock-hard erection.
Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual dysfunction in men, affecting men of all ages. Pelvic floor muscles play a role in ejaculation, and pelvic floor muscles exercises can help prevent premature ejaculation by increasing the strength, tone, power, and endurance of these muscles. To apply this to the real life situation at hand, you need to recognize the “forthcoming” premature ejaculation, slow the pace of intercourse, pause the pelvic thrusting, and squeeze your pelvic muscles until the feeling of imminent ejaculation goes away. By actively deploying your pelvic floor muscles, the premature ejaculation can be short-circuited and intercourse resumed, enabling a more sustained sexual experience.
Keeping your pelvic muscles functional and strong improves the quality of your daily life. Learn more about how you can strengthen and maintain these critical muscles at www.privategym.com.
Andrew Siegel, M.D., Urologist, Co-founder of The Private Gym, and author of the highly acclaimed book, Male Pelvic Fitness, Optimizing Your Sexual and Urinary Health.